Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Delicious Helping of the Teen Menu

By Trish Milburn (aka Tricia Mills)

Before reading the two young adult novels I'm featuring this month, I can't remember the last time I read two books in a row that kept me up way past when I should have been going to sleep. One, yes, but not two. But that's exactly what happened when I read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

In Shiver, Stiefvater has created an interesting mythology behind werewolves, where the changing has to do with the weather rather than the phases of the moon. The heroine, Grace, has always been oddly attracted to the wolves that live in the woods behind her home. This is strange to many because of the fact that she was attacked by those same wolves as a child. There's one wolf in particular she thinks of as her wolf, one with striking yellow eyes. When an injured boy with the same eyes shows up on her back deck, the truth begins to reveal itself.

Sam leads a double life he never asked for -- as a wolf in the winter and as a human for a few months in the summer. Each year, it gets harder to hold on to his human self, and he fears losing himself to the wolf forever -- which also means he'll lose Grace, too soon after they've finally connected. As their wonderful summer days turn to fall and then winter, he has to fight harder than he ever has to stay human. But with Grace at his side, he might be able to do it.

Though this is a wonderful self-contained story, there's enough of a hanging ending to allow for the sequel, Linger, set to release July 20. Stiefvater says on her Web site that film rights have been acquired for Shiver, so hopefully we'll see this story on the big screen sometime soon.

Author Web site: www.maggiestiefvater.com

Most recently, I finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I literally stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish this book because I simply had to know what happened. This is the story of Katsa, who lives in the Middluns, one of seven kingdoms of Graceling's world. Katsa is one of the Graced, which means she was born with an extraordinary ability. Some people are Graced with skills such as cooking or singing, but Katsa's Grace is that of killing. And her uncle, King Randa, puts it to use when he wants to punish those who don't do what he wants -- that is until a new and unexpected friend helps Katsa realize that with her abilities, she doesn't have to do Randa's bidding.

Because of her horrible Grace, Katsa has had few friends. Most people are frightened of her and refuse to look her in the eye. To them, the eyes of the Graced (each eye a different color) are unsettling. But not to Prince Po of Lienid, for he is Graced too, with combat skills. Here, for once, is someone with whom Katsa can spar and not fear his instant death. Their friendship grows as they set out from the Middluns for the far kingdom of Monsea in search of the reason and person behind the kidnapping of Po's grandfather. They don't expect to fall in love or to find a horror so great that even Katsa may be defenseless against it. And Katsa finds out there's more to her Grace than she ever realized.

I really enjoyed this book, and I plan to read the companion book (a prequel), Fire, very soon. Cashore is currently at work on a sequel, Bitterblue, but no release date has been set.

Author Web site: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/

Have you all read Shiver or Graceling? What did you think? What great YA books have you read lately? And which ones are you looking forward to this year?

18 comments:

  1. I have not read Shiver or Graceling yet, but they are both in my TBR pile.
    A little ways down yet, but they are there. :-)

    The 2 YA books that I just finished are Girl in the Arena by LIse Haines, which I can't say enough good things about, that book is RIVETING! just riveting! I couldn't put it down. I started it at 10 pm and finished it at 4am.

    The other YA book that I have recently read was Fallen by Lauren Kate. I really enjoyed this one too. Its another one that I couldn't put down.

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  2. i haven't read shiver but i did read graceling.

    I LOVED Graceling--one of my best reads for 2009. It was so good and it has everything adventure, magic, romance, mystery, a kick-ass heroine, a great hero, great cast of characters... can keep going on!

    another great YA books are the hunger games and catching fire, a series by suzanne collins. book 3 comes out in august and i can't wait. these books are my newest series obsession!

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  3. I read Graceling last year in German. And I have to say, it reminds me a bit on the Otori Novels from Lian Hearn. But I enjoyed the book a lot and I'm looking forward to read Fire one day.
    I never read about Shiver and I don't know if I will read it. My pile of books I want to read is too high atm.

    What I'm looking forward and coming out this year is Trudi Canavans Sequel of the Black magicians Guild! It's called "The Traitor Spy 1: The Ambassador’s Mission" and will be out in May (in English AND in German!)

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  4. I haven't read either of these, Trish, but they sound great! Thanks for adding to my out of control TBB and TBR monstrosities! LOL

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  5. I haven't heard of these books, Trish. Thank you for sharing. Wow, they sound awesome!

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  6. I haven't read either of them yet. Graceling does sound really interesting though.

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  7. Libba Bray. Her books, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, REBEL ANGELS, AND THE SWEET FAR THING are excellent. She has a very cool site too. I have not read SHIVER or GRACELING.

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  8. Meljprincess, I love Libba Bray's books!

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  9. Dorthy, I have Fallen close to the top of my TBR pile, but I don't have Girl in the Arena yet. I just went to read the blurb about it, and it does sound really good.

    chelleyreads, I LOVE The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Like you, I'm counting down days until the third book comes out.

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  10. Trudi, I'd not heard of Canavan's books. I'm going to have to check those out.

    Gannon, always glad to help. LOL. :)

    Hope you enjoy them, Deb. Same to you, jedisakora.

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  11. meljprincess, I totally agree with you. I love Bray's books. I got totally sucked into the world she'd built.

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  12. I've heard a lot about Shiver (all good things), but much about not Graceling, Trish. This is why I love your columns, I learn so much! I'll definitely check these out. ;-)

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  13. I hope you like them both, Andrea.

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  14. Wow, Trish, two more very interesting books that I need find. How is that you always provide me with more reading material? Now I just need a money tree to support my addiction! :0

    Lately, I have heard quite a bit about Shiver and how great it is.

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  15. Buffie, it's my goal in life to add to everyone's TBR piles. :)

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  16. I'd say you're doing a wonderful job of attaining that goal, Trish. I know my tbr pile grows every time you dish with us!

    Thanks for bringing two more interesting books to our attention. Good thing I got book store gift cards for Christmas!

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  17. Oooh, Shiver looks really good!! I'll definitely have to check that one out!

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  18. They are both on my TBR pile. I put them on the shelf in our library and they have been well received. I am so far behind in my YA reading. There has been a real wealth of good YA books the last few years.
    I just finished Fablehaven, the first book in a middle school series by Brandon Mull.

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